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Vinson Fellow to review student success data for fall semester project

September 27, 2018 | Students

By Hannah Benson

Hannah Benson

Vinson Fellow to review student success data for fall semester project

When I first moved to Athens from my hometown of Alpharetta, I was completely undecided about my program of study. Now that I’m entering my fourth year here at the University of Georgia, I’m proud to have a foot in both the liberal arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with my international affairs and statistics majors.

I am excited to enter the world of big data and communicate valuable insights to the decision-makers who matter most. After graduation, I hope to start work in corporate America as a data scientist or continue my education toward a master’s degree in business analytics.

My Vinson Fellows project will allow me to analyze a University System of Georgia dataset that describes how individual students have progressed through their education from matriculation to graduation, transfer or withdrawal. The dataset uses a special way to code the enrollment pattern of each student using one long string of letters. This type of coding is very similar to DNA coding, so the dataset provides a unique opportunity to employ the biostatistics methods that I’m very interested in! I want to answer two main research questions: I want to identify what high schools tend to send the most students who drop out after one, two or three semesters, and what transfer patterns are the most successful and the least successful?

I have really enjoyed meeting my faculty mentor David Tanner and computing specialist James Byers this semester. They are both very easy to talk to and seem very happy to have a quantitative-focused Vinson Fellow to work with. I appreciate their patience and their willingness to adjust the course of the project based on my insights and ideas.

I’m looking forward to the hands-on learning I’ll gain by performing analyses and visualizations on this robust and useful dataset. On top of that, I’ll be attending as many Vinson-sponsored events as possible to get to know international delegations and newly selected political representatives in Georgia.


Hannah is an honors senior pursuing bachelor’s degrees in statistics and international affairs and a minor in Spanish. An Alpharetta native, she is president of the UGA chapter of the youth leadership organization AIESEC, a member of the AIESEC in the United States board and a former member of the UGA Student Government Association policy research board. She has studied abroad in Buenos Aires and worked for the UGA en Buenos Aires program.